Pot marigold or calendula is a miracle with roots. It is very good at stimulating blood circulation and speeding healing through its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Calendula is still widely used by pharmaceutical companies in a wide range of skin products, moisturizers, baby wipes, toothpaste, creams, cleansers and toners. Dye from the plant is used to colour and flavour rice, soups, cheeses and butter.
It is also used for treating a sore throat and a number of other ailments, including to soothe eczema.
On the ornamental side, calendula is a pretty yellow flower, also known as English marigold, that will brighten any garden. It’s easy to grow from seeds, planted out directly in early spring. It is a perennial but may not survive a severe winter.
On the other hand, it may just decide to self-sow, profusely!
Lady’s mantle, that lovely little dewdrop-holder, has many virtues, not the least of which is its enchanting presence in the garden. Its pea-green leaves present sparkles of light held in prisms of dew hung from the edges of its scalloped leaves each morning.
It further rewards us with sprays of yellow flowers that would grace any special bouquet.
Yet more, it is an antispasmodic, used to treat muscle pains and relieve birth pain. Its anti-bacterial properties are used against burns, boils and other infections. It is handy in curing bee stings and heals cuts and wounds. It is said that a tea made from its leaves can help treat obesity.
The woodland poppy
Celandine poppy, a woodland plant that grows wild in southern Ontario (and in the ravines of
Toronto) but has been tamed to gardens here in Manitoba, has been used to treat skin cancers and eczema. It helps shrink hemorrhoids, gets rid of warts and treats psoriasis. It has also been used to fortify hair and fight baldness.
In the garden, its small lemon-yellow flowers entice pollinators from the earliest days of spring. Break off a stem and beware of the golden sap oozing from the stems between its bright green leaves. This sap can stain almost anything, and it is said to be useful in treating genital warts
It is a shy plant, happy in the shade but delirious in the sunlight, where it will fling itself in all directions.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is used in liver treatments and to lower cholesterol. It is said to relieve the after-effects of alcohol abuse and can be used to treat those withdrawing from opiates and to counteract the side effects of taking oral steroids.
It is useful in treating prostate cancer.
This is not an ornamental for the ordinary garden, but rather a true thistle with thistle-like flower and the spiky leaves.
Every part of the plant is used in some way. It’s been used in the garden pharmacopeia for 2,000 years in the Mediterranean.
Angelica archangelical or common garden angelica is considered the queen of the herb garden, perhaps because of its imposing physical presence; it can grow to 12 feet tall. It was believed to have been able to cure the plague, which probably led to its heavenly name.
Angelica is very fragrant, not just the magnificent white flower umbels, but all parts of the plant, right down to the roots. It is used in aroma therapy.
Parts of the plant are used to flavour liqueurs such as Benedictine, vermouth and brandy. Chewing a stem can relieve toothache, ease tummy
ache and reduce flatulence. It is effective against bacteria, fungal infections, and concoctions of angelica are used as an expectorant to treat colds and bronchitis. Angelica can also be used to relieve menstrual symptoms.
You don’t see it grown in many city gardens, but I have encountered it in country yards and fell in love.
Dorothy Dobbie is the founder of Manitoba
Gardener magazine, now heading into its 21st year. For subscriptions, call Shelly at 204-940-2700 (it makes a wonderful Christmas gift) or go online to localgardener.net to order